Supper was a fondue that night, Paul’s favourite. He loved dipping the bread and meat into the thick gloopy cheese sauce. Martha was in a good mood. Andrew had phoned earlier to say that he and Penny had arrived home safely and that Penny had perked up a bit on the drive. Martha was glad – she just wanted to enjoy her time with her younger children.
Time went by so quickly and she couldn’t believe that her first born was ready to fly the nest already and go to University!
The phone rang in the kitchen. As Martha got up to answer it she deftly grabbed the vase of wildflowers that Patsy had collected earlier that day for Penny. It was a bit too close to Paul and his over-excited hand movements as he signed to Patsy a story that he had made up about a bear and a rabbit. Martha smiled to herself; she was lucky to have such expressive and joyful children.
Paul was getting right into his story when a smash tore Patsy’s attention away from him. Martha had dropped the vase and the phone as she slumped to the floor in a heap.
The funeral was beautiful. All of Penny’s friends attended and Patsy covered the coffin in wildflowers that she had brought back from the mountains. The sight of it all as Paul signed Penny’s favourite song, “Always There” whilst the coffin disappeared behind the curtains brought tears to everyone’s eyes.
The family was torn apart. None of the doctors had an answer as to why a healthy 18-year-old like Penny could suddenly be taken from them with a rash and muscle stiffness. Andrew spent more and more time at work. He couldn’t face coming home to the heartache and he started to sleep at the office.
Martha was put on anti-depressants by the GP and concerned neighbours looked after Patsy and Paul. Paul stopped signing and retreated into his silent world whilst Patsy tried to pretend that life hadn’t changed, that Penny was still there and that she would wake up and find that all this had been a terrible dream.
Andrew didn’t come home for a week. Martha, stabilised by her medication, went along to his bank on the Sunday to try to get through to Andrew, to tell him that she and Patsy and Paul needed him, that Penny wouldn’t have wanted this. She found him on the couch in his office. He was covered in boils and frothing at the mouth. He looked at her with soulless eyes and Martha knew then that although she called the paramedics straight away, nothing would save her husband.
Patsy and Paul went to live with foster parents and Martha was admitted to the psychiatric ward of the Bellevue Private Hospital. Life had been turned upside down and inside out.
As the months passed, more and more children came to live with the foster family as adults all over the city perished due to this Virus that had taken hold of the world.
Word got to Patsy and Paul that Martha had passed away in her sleep and mercifully had been too tranquillised to notice the horrifying affects that the Virus had had on her in her last days.
Patsy clung to her dog Bob for comfort. He was the only friend she had and was the link between her and her silent brother Paul. Only when they were with Bob was Paul able to sign. He was comforted by the warm breath of the dog and felt at ease enough to communicate with his sister.
The last day at the foster home was a sad one. Jessie had passed away a fortnight ago and now Darla had been taken to hospital. Without foster parents and with no adults able to take over the running of the home things started to go crazy.
Groups of scary looking kids came and took away all the electrical items from the house and others vandalised the place. Food was stolen and clothing was taken. The other kids that lived there were older than Patsy and Paul and had long gone.
Eventually Patsy and Paul had to face facts – they weren’t safe in this part of the city and had to find somewhere that they could hide.
Thankfully they had Bob to protect them as they stepped out into a world without adults, a world of chaos.